We all have a narrative that runs through our brain. Are these stories true? Do they hold us back? They certainly can. One of the stories that I’ve told myself since my childhood is that I hate running.
This story begins in elementary school when for a few months my dad decided to take up jogging. Let’s be clear: My dad was most definitely not a runner. He was chubby, always on a diet, and preferred to lounge around all day doing the crossword puzzle rather than partake in any sort of physical activity.
But jogging was big in the 80s and he figured he’d give it a try. We’d throw on our Adidas track suits and head to the track on Saturday mornings and I would do my best to make it around the track a few times, usually trailing behind my dad who wasn’t exactly Carl Lewis.
After about 15 minutes of huffing and puffing, dad would call it quits and we’d sit on the bleachers catching our breath. Then he’d light up a victory cigarette and we’d be on our way, usually to grab bagels and cream cheese, thus rendering any benefit from our outing null and void.
Fast forward to junior high school and high school and the introduction of borderline sadistic gym teachers who used running laps as punishment for being late or a bad attitude, and my hatred of running took hold. Inevitably I’d be one of the last kids around the track, red-faced, sweaty and mortified by my lack of physical prowess.
Like my dad, I was chubby and the Russell athletic shorts we had to wear would ride up on my fleshy thighs. The other kids would pass me, their spindly legs zooming by as I struggled to keep my shorts in place and my dignity intact. Occasionally, I’d catch a look of contempt, or a snicker from one of my schoolmates. It was all pretty mortifying.
In these moments, I felt ashamed. Ashamed of not being skinny and athletic. Ashamed of being awkward and round and frizzy-haired. That shame became synonymous with running and I began to hate it. Not only did I hate it, I decided it was absolutely something that I sucked at and would do my best to avoid for the rest of my life.
Then I met my husband. He was a runner and had completed three marathons. I told him that I hated running and that I was bad at it. He felt the same way about yoga, which I have been…